Robert Avila

Loss leader

The Monkey Room's monkey business is familiar, inkBoat struck a c(H)ord
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The head of a team of HIV researchers (Lauren Grace) tries to safeguard what may be a breakthrough — a concoction they have been testing on monkeys seems, albeit mysteriously, to inhibit transmission of the virus in The Monkey Room. Meanwhile, a fallen fellow researcher turned funding hatchet man (a slickly imposing Robert Parsons) acts as proverbial wolf at the door. Read more »

Destination unknown

Ethical traveler Jeff Greenwald has a trip for you: Strange Travel Suggestions
|
()

> a&eletters@sfbg.com

Jeff Greenwald has done his show Strange Travel Suggestions dozens if not hundreds of times and still has no idea where it's going. No wonder he and his audience keep coming back for more. The unknown, an aphrodisiac to the traveler, also makes great catnip for the storyteller.

Still, there are consistent elements. Read more »

Tumbleweed noir

In his first play, Dennis Lehane mines dark mysteries in flyover country
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

In a humble Southwestern bar tended by a chatty waitress (Lorraine Olsen), three pairs of customers on the edge of nowhere discuss the past and future with a certain growing desperation. Coronado, though the title of the play, isn't exactly the setting. It's one of the up-and-coming towns in the area, referred to in passing as not a bad place to be — something to aspire to, maybe. Read more »

Edging toward the edge

Tragedy: a tragedy makes light of darkness
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

A title like Tragedy: a tragedy has, you might think, promises to keep. But what exactly are they? The repetition already flags, and flogs the futility in the gesture, announcing amusingly this post-tragic age. Instead, a sardonic scene suggests itself, nothing summing up the post-tragic like the daily litany of tragic stories on the news. Read more »

Acting pleasant

Notable theater performances of 2007
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

George Bernard Shaw once titled a bound collection of his dramas Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, thus inadvertently summing up any year in any theater scene anywhere. But this is a happy time, so we can concentrate on the former.

The pool of local acting talent, in particular, spoils us in the Bay Area. While it's not hard to find a strong performance from last year, finding room to list them all is another story, and a much longer one. Read more »

Chair and chair alike

Adam Bock plumbs the depths of commitment in The Shaker Chair
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

What we owe one another, whether family, friends, fellow human beings, or just fellow creatures — and how we define we in the first place — is a perennial question of both politics and art. Read more »

Durang harangue

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge serves a heaping helping of humbug
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The annual relentless prosecution of Christmas is a happy time for some. For others, not so much. For her part, Gladys Cratchit (Joan Mankin), the long-suffering wife of Bob (Keith Burkland) — that misty-eyed mistletoe of a man harried six days a week by his grasping gargoyle of an employer, Ebenezer Scrooge (Victor Talmadge) — is ready to throw herself off London Bridge. One sees her point. Read more »

Will trade thought for food

"What You Will" -- and won't -- in TheatreWorks' Twelfth Night
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"If music be the food of love, let's party" goes the catchphrase for TheatreWorks' holiday production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will. As this jiggering with Orsino's famous opening line suggests, artistic director Robert Kelley takes the Bard's invitation to do "what you will" as a license to rock, with a San Francisco Summer of Love theme meant to warm the cockles on a winter's eve. It's a theme the show's producers run with at full tilt. Read more »

In and out

Unpacking the social pressure to procreate in The Crowd You're In With
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Playwright Rebecca Gilman's work has often courted subjects with ripped-from-the-headlines appeal, such as Spinning into Butter's take on racism at a small New England college or Boy Gets Girl's stalker scenario. Her latest play, The Crowd You're In With, is no less timely. But at first blush it seems quieter and more understated in its choice of setting and subject matter: a backyard barbeque and a clash between three couples over whether or not to have children. Read more »

Disaster preparedness

Ellen Gavin's Stardust and Empty Wagons: Stories from the Katrina Diaspora
|
()

Above a semicircle of wooden crates arranged on a weathered wooden stage, two tattered flags of New Orleans and the United States are projected on a back screen. The flags appear to flutter in the rotating series of overlapping still images. Read more »